Newspaper Article

April 14, 2018

"Don't Wait until It's Too Late"

The person who traveled the farthest to come to my father-in-law's recent funeral was my wife's cousin from Arizona. However when I heard what time her flight was scheduled to land in Atlanta, I was somewhat concerned. I knew not only that her plane would need to be on time, but that everything else subsequent to her arrival would need to go smoothly in order for her to make it to the funeral home in time, including our unpredictable traffic. Well, it didn't. The main culprit was a long, slow line at the rental car counter. Disappointingly my wife's cousin arrived at the funeral home just as the service was ending.

It was frustrating and sad for someone to have made such an effort and to have come so far only to miss out. Granted, it wasn't a total loss. She still got to spend time with family and attend the burial. But she missed the main event for which she was aiming.

It reminds me of the parable Jesus told about some people who arrived late at an event, however this was a wedding rather than a funeral (see Matthew 25:1-13). They weren't prepared when the time came, and in the meantime the celebration went on without them. When they finally did arrive, the door was shut. In spite of their pleas to gain entrance, they were refused. It was too late.

While Jesus applied this parable specifically to our readiness for His Second Coming, there is an important general lesson to take away from it as well. In spite of the fact that God is merciful, gracious, and willing to give us second chances, there comes a time when the door of opportunity shuts, not to be reopened.

We often encourage ourselves and others concerning our circumstances in life with the declaration that "it's never too late". And for the most part that's true. As long as we've got life and breath it's not too late to turn around and change. For example, no matter what a person has done in the past or how long he's refused to submit to God, it's not too late to repent and put one's faith in the Lord. We have example after example in the Bible, as well as in our own lives, how God is forgiving and gracious and patient with people. He rarely brings immediate and final judgment on those who disobey Him, but rather gives them an opportunity to turn back to Him. He has His hand on the door just waiting and hoping that we will show up so that He can open the door to let us in to fellowship with Him. He's the loving father in another of Jesus' parables who is looking for his wayward son and ready to welcome him home.

However the Bible also reveals that our time and opportunity is limited. Christ will return. Death will show up. Or sometimes there are specific opportunities that must be answered at that particular moment or they disappear forever. There does come a time when it's too late. We need to be careful not to be unprepared or unwilling to walk through those doors when they're open to us, because one day they won't be. How sad it would be to go so far in life only to miss out on that which is most important.

Don't put off getting right with God. Don't ignore those opportunities to serve Him. At some point the door will close and it will be too late. And you're also missing out on the blessing God has for you in the meantime.